Suspected Islamists kill 20 in attack on villages in Congo

Suspected Islamists kill 20 in attack on villages in Congo
At least 20 people were killed by suspected Islamist militants in two villages in eastern Congo.
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Islamists have reportedly killed at least 20 people in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo [Getty]

Suspected Islamist militants killed around 20 people in attacks on two villages in eastern Congo over the weekend, the army and a local human rights group said on Sunday.

Fighters believed to be from the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) killed residents and burned down houses in Kandoyi and Bandiboli villages in Ituri province late on Friday and early on Saturday, said Christophe Munyanderu, coordinator of the local group Convention for the Respect of Human Rights (CRDH).

The Congolese army spokesperson in Ituri, Jules Ngongo, confirmed about 20 deaths, and said Congolese forces were in pursuit of the assailants.

"It's too hard for me - when I saw the bodies, their throats had been cut," said Alice Kyanga, whose parents were among those killed at their homes on Saturday.

The ADF is a Ugandan militia that moved to eastern Congo in the 1990s. The group was responsible for 1,050 violent deaths in 2021, up from 599 in 2020, according to data from Kivu Security Tracker, which maps violence in the area.

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Security has deteriorated in Ituri and neighbouring North Kivu province since the government placed them under military rule last year, UN experts said in June.

The government declared a state of siege in the provinces in April 2021 in response to escalating attacks by militias, including repeated massacres by the ADF, which has links to the Islamic State.

Uganda has also sent at least 1,700 troops to help its neighbour fight the ADF after accusing the group of responsibility for a string of bombings in Kampala last year.